A long night in Berlin
23rd November 1943: Sheltering from the bombs as one of the heaviest raids of the whole war hammers the German capital
'Bomber' Harris's new campaign against the German capital had begun with the raid on the 18th/19th November. The raid of the night 22nd/23rd was the largest force yet sent to Berlin - a total of 764 aircraft. Berlin itself was completely covered in cloud, which would have prevented an accurate raid earlier in the war. With the development and refinement of the RAF Pathfinder’s sky marking, cloud cover was no longer any protection after they had identified the target with radar.
The raid proved to be the 'most effective' bombing attack on Berlin of the whole war. Concentrated bombing destroyed large areas of the centre and west of the city. Amongst the casualties were the 500 occupants of one large public air raid shelter that received a direct hit. Relatively dry weather helped create firestorms, next day the fires were producing smoking columns that rose to 19,000 feet.